The five East Midlands police forces are uniting in the fight against modern slavery.
The joint message comes ahead of a national day of action and awareness.
This Saturday (18 October) is National Anti-Slavery Day, when the public are invited to pressurise the Government and a range of other key public and private sector organisations to address and eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking, issues which have come to the fore following a number of recent high-profile cases in the UK.
Lincolnshire Deputy Chief Constable Heather Roach is the regional lead for Human Trafficking and Slavery.
She said: “Since the Anti-Slavery Day Bill became law in 2010, it has provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the subject with the aim of addressing the scale and scope of human trafficking, and inspiring people to eliminate it.
“Slavery and human trafficking can take many forms, ranging from the sexual exploitation of adults and children to forced labour and domestic servitude. It is also often misunderstood. The terrible truth is that it is far more widespread in the UK and other developed nations than many of us realise.
DCC Roach added: “Along with other public and private sector organizations, the police forces have an important role to play in tackling these crimes.
“Where we have evidence that someone is being trafficked or exploited by another person or group, we will take action to safeguard that person and to try and prevent them from being a victim again.
“But we need to the public to be aware of the issue and to look for the signs that suggest that someone they know of or may have seen is a victim of trafficking or slavery.
“There are tell-tale signs which may suggest someone is a victim of trafficking and slavery. They could appear fearful or afraid, unwilling to talk and may even have visible injuries that may be the result of an assault or restraint.
“The important point is, however, that if anyone has any concerns that someone else is being exploited they know where to turn to to pass on that information.”
There are two key websites with useful information and advice:
www.antislaveryday.com includes details of events and awareness campaigns to highlight the issue
www.modernslavery.co.uk gives guidance on how to identify and report the issue.
One of the ways of reporting it is to telephone the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700
Alternatively, you can call your local police force on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
DCC Roach said: “We in the East Midlands will work in partnership between our forces and with partner agencies to ensure we meet the aims of the national Modern Slavery Strategy, namely to strengthen the support for and protection of victims, and to improve the identification, disruption and prosecution of offenders.
”To achieve those aims, we need the public to play their part too, and everyone can start by taking time to increase their awareness on Anti-Slavery Day.”